ResellingRevealed: Finding cheap sources for shipping supplies is one of the hardest parts of being a small eBay seller (or any online seller for that matter). In the past we were able to keep up with our boxes and packing material needs by raiding dumpsters and taking the leftovers from local businesses. As our number of sold items increased however, we needed a cheap and reliable way to source larger amounts of shipping materials! That, however, is a story for another time. If you are just starting out, the following guide will help you save money on shipping which will, in turn, allow you to charge competitive prices and increase your sales numbers!
DON’T BUY SHIPPING SUPPLIES! SAVE SOME $$$!
This guide will teach you tricks of the trade on how to ship from your home for little to no extra expenses! No more waiting in long lines at the post office! As you know if you s/h price is too high, you will scare away a large chunk of potential bidders. You don’t have to stick to USPS Priority as the only option anymore!!
(First, let me state, Ebay won’t allow me to enter the actual website so just think of adding www. to the front of the addresses, not trying to go around them but trying to provide accurate information)
You may, or may not be aware that you can order FREE USPS Priority supplies and have them shipped TO YOUR HOME for FREE. Go to USPS.com and you will find the full selection of shipping supplies – everything USPS Priority is free with free shipping. These supplies are printed on the outside and inside USPS PRIORITY so you can ONLY use them for shipping Priority mail.
Also, you can ship directly from your auction page, My Ebay page or even USPS.com/clicknship – just about any postage you need – no additional fees, no special equipment needed.
(You can also ship UPS from home, but they are often a bit higher priced and more complicated so I steer clear of them unless it is something large and heavy.)
PRINTING FROM HOME
- One of the best ways to save money here is when you are getting ready to print, load your printer with used paper – as in one side clean and one side marked up. My daughter loves to snatch paper out of my printer to color on, so when it is time to print, I put those discarded colorful creations clean side up in the printer – waste not want not! It’s a little thing but hey – saves me money on buying packs of paper all the time.
- Speaking of paper, did you know you can take your empty printer cartridges to Office Depot locations and they will trade you for a FREE new ream of Office Depot brand paper – they will take your empty and recycle it for you. A nice trade off! Nothing to purchase!
- And on to printing, before you hit print, or on most computers, after you hit print but before you okay it (VISTA!) – select printer preferences and select “Draft” on print quality. The postage prints just as clear as normal but it saves you quite a bit on ink.
I write this guide for all the new Sellers (and some of you more established ones, too)… I have three little kids – one of which attends pre-k and I sell on Ebay as my ONLY source of income (aside from hubby’s job)…. I don’t have much spare time when the kids are awake, and I certainly do not want to try to lug packages to the post office to ship with my wee-three in tow.
You can print USPS First Class, USPS Parcel Post, and USPS Priority Mail labels from your home – no special printer paper required! You can also ship USPS Express Mail and Global too! Print it the night before, or on the weekend anytime and it will be ready to sit out the next business day at your mailbox!
First things first, you need a scale. Not a big, fancy (pricey) postage scale either! You can get a food scale at Wal-Mart, dollar stores, even yard sales for so cheap! Make sure it is adjustable (so you can ensure you start on the zero mark everytime), most are, seems to be a standard feature and you will want it to not only display pounds but ounces as well. I find that my cheap little wal-mart scale that reaches 5lbs is more than enough for me, you make more money selling clothing by item or by outfit than you do in a huge lot anyways. You can even find scales on Ebay for pretty cheap. In a pinch, you can even use the bathroom scale! It won’t be as accurate, so you will want to round up to the nearest pound or ounce.
Now once you have a scale, you don’t have to go to the Post Office again!
However, If you don’t want to mess with having a scale, before you list, divide the auctions up into wal-mart sacks and stuff the sacks into a box – take them to the post office and have each sack weighed seperately inside the box. You don’t have to stand in line, most PO’s have a scale off to the side. Just jot down the bag’s weight in pounds and ounces. Before having a scale, I just used a sharpie to mark it right on the outside of the bag. Now if someone combines shipping, just add the auctions weight together and figure the total shipping weight. You can do this at USPS.com – click calculate postage. But if you send invoices through MyEbay you just enter the weight and the invoice will total it for you based on the listed mailing address location.
- The ONLY item I buy is a roll of clear packing tape from the Dollar Store. Note: Don’t use Wal-Mart or any other store – the Dollar Stores sell the same quality, same brands as Wal-Mart but instead of paying $2 and up for the same thing, you will only spend $1 on it. (Hey, I am cheap, every penny counts!) In a pinch, masking tape, duct tape or even painters tape will work as well as getting out your hot glue gun.
- When I ship with USPS Priority I use the freebie labels you can get by roll from the USPS website- I use their Priority Envelopes or boxes and seal it shut and attach the label with their sticker labels in place of my tape.
But what to do with USPS First Class and USPS Parcel Post packaging??
Don’t you have to BUY packages to ship with?!
That brings me to this first myth:
- “You have to ship with nice new envelopes or to ship with USPS First Class or Parcel Post”. WRONG. So many Sellers I run across actually stock up on oversized envelopes and bubble mailers from Sam’s Club – same with packing material like bubble wrap – which isn’t bad, but it is money out of your bottomline. So, if I have one of these pretty new mailers mailed to me, or if a package comes with bubble wrap, I am careful to open it and put it aside for future use! When I am ready to use one, I simply mark a simple X through the old postage and addresses, then I affix my new shipping label right on top – no worries if you don’t cover up all the old postage and addresses, as long as an X has been marked through it, USPS knows which to use.
- EVEN if you don’t have packages come to you in the mail: You do NOT have to buy any special packaging to ship with USPS First Class. Other sources: What about cracker boxes, cereal and poptarts boxes? They come apart really easily – just run your finger underneath the seam and turn the box inside out. Just about any item you have that doesn’t come in direct contact with food is acceptable for shipping with! I fold them backwards, turning the box inside out, and add tape over the next seams. Now you have a nice, new box that is already made as lightweight as possible to ship with! I have NEVER had a single buyer comment about my source of box. The majority of them actually email me to say how nicely packaged their items were – I neatly wrap the item in bubble-wrap or tissue paper I have lying around, tuck in a simple handwritten note that thanks them for their purchase and says “I would greatly appreciate your Ebay feedback” and put that inside either a previously used mailer or one of my inside-out boxes.
- Another source, pick up free baggy mailers from UPS and if they have any outter UPS marking, turn them inside out!
One nice plus of shipping from home is you actually SAVE money off services than you would going to the post office in person. When you print postage from home, you will get FREE USPS Delivery Confirmation when you ship with Priority or Express, and when you ship First Class or Parcel Post, you get it discounted – around .15cents instead of .50 you would pay at the Post Office!
If you didn’t know: If someone pays with Paypal, you are REQUIRED by Paypal to include a USPS Delivery Confirmation (or a tracking number for UPS/FedEx..) number for all your items (and if over $150 – you are required to include USPS Signature Confirmation) – this is REQUIRED of you by Paypal, to protect your butt should any package go “missing” along the way or a complaint be filed against you. (*see my other guide on Paypal loopholes) – if you ship without and a Paypal claim is opened, you will be defenseless to prove that you shipped the item – regardless of the papertrail you can provide! Paypal will decide in the buyer’s favor and refund the ENTIRE transaction amount – including shipping!! (*For more on the Paypal loopholes see my other guide PAYPAL LOOPHOLE: ow that you got the details, down to the deed:
Printing the postage is easy, just enter the package weight (if you do this at the start of the ad when you list, your buyers will know right off what their rates are and when you go to print from Ebay – it will be automatically filled in). PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY TO BID IF THEY KNOW UPFRONT THE SHIPPING PRICE. Most will not take the time to drop you and email and ask – and that is the loss of potential bidders!
A.D.D Sidenote: If you are listing something super lightweight, be careful about adding too much on the handling side of the s/h fees. No matter how low your starting bid is, if your shipping looks unreasonable you will be passed over.
Then all you do is select any options you want or don’t want and what method. Then click on print. That easy!
When you print off of Ebay or usps.com/clicknship – you get free or discounted Delivery Confirmation added automatically to your packages – plus a handy receipt for your piece of mind – AND you can even opt to add a note to the buyer to notify them of the shipping details – I get TONS of compliments from my buyers for excellent communication and it is all because of just including a simple note. I usually say something like:
“Thank you for your Ebay purchase and prompt payment! Your items are being shipping (enter the method used, ie, “USPS First Class”) and USPS Delivery Confirmation has been added to your package (*this makes you sound like you are going the extra mile to protect their purchase – but actually, it was included for you!) – after your package arrives, I would greatly appreciate your Ebay feedback, and in return I will follow! – (Ebay ID)
(*This last bit also helps get your buyers to follow through and post positive feedback for you and as we all know, feedback is what builds your rep on Ebay!)
- Myth #2: You need to include INSURANCE with every package. Other than USPS Delivery Confirmation *(or a tracking number with any other carrier), you aren’t required to do zilch, and that is ONLY for people that pay by Paypal (*unless your item sold for over $250…see my Paypals Loopholes guide). THOUGH if you are sending something over $50 – I would STRONGLY urge adding Insurance – this is where shipping with UPS pays off BIG TIME — in that unlikely event of the buyer claiming “damage” or “it never arrived” – you have protection included with the price of shipping UPS.
- Ebay doesn’t require anything of you for any other payment method – however, this little tidbit (USPS Delivery Confirmation) will end any questions on shipping should problems arise. I leave Insurnace coverage up to the buyer to decide if they want to risk shipping without. HOWEVER you ARE expected to properly protect your items when packing. Wadded up magazine pages or newspaper is cheap and easy to find! If you don’t properly protect your item and EVEN IF INSURANCE was added, the carriers will consider the insurance null and void and THE SELLER’S FAULT.
For extra zing, you can pick up a huge package of gift bag tissue paper (again, at the wonderful dollar store) and a package of generic thank you notes. Other great sources, those clear baggies that items are packaged in at the store, fold over the lip and tape – tah-dah now it is protected from the elements! Or next holiday or birthday party you are at, instead of watching all that tissue paper get thrown away – snag it – yep just like your penny-pinching grandma would – it makes a huge difference to your buyers in presentation and helps win positive Ebay feedback!
With clothing, I will usually use one or two pieces of tissue to wrap around the item and include a simple thank you note (pretty much says the same thing that I include with the shipping information) – and sign it your first name and your Ebay ID. This simple and inexpensive extra really pays off in feedback!
Buyers are impressed when they think care and attention was taken in shipping their items.
So the next time you list, instead of automatically listing the USPS Flat-Rate Priority price, you can give your buyers a MUCH more appealing option of USPS First Class or USPS Parcel Post – and watch your bidders flock to you!